Ateneans to vote on petition for mass student strike vs gov’t ‘negligence‘
MANILA, Philippines — The central student government of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) will vote on Tuesday whether to endorse a grassroots petition for a mass student strike starting Nov. 18, to protest the government’s “criminal negligence” amid the widespread destruction wrought by the past three typhoons across the country.
If endorsed, the petition calling to withhold all academic submissions until the government gets its act together will become a formal action by Ateneo’s student body.
Around 581 students have signed the statement, which many say is reminiscent of the University of the Philippines’ student strike in 2000 against the corruption-ridden Estrada administration.
In an interview, Sanggunian president JB Bejarin told the Inquirer that each sector of the Loyola Schools would now consult with their constituencies regarding the petition.
The student government will then hold an emergency session on Tuesday to vote on the endorsement of the strike through the Central Assembly, he added.
The petition emerged spontaneously outside of the Sanggunian, Bejarin noted.
“If you read the petition carefully, it’s mainly invoking the students’ right to strike, and the premise there is the government’s negative response during the past months, especially during this time of calamity,” he added. “It’s mainly directed to the government, [but the petition’s] effects ultimately spill over to the Loyola Schools community, which was why we tackled the petition in the first place.”
The bold statement was a broad indictment not just of the government’s supposed inaction but also of the sorry state of education amid the pandemic.
It’s also a humble acknowledgment of the broad privileges enjoyed by most Ateneo students, who pledged to “sacrifice what we have for those who do not share our privilege.”
Even though Ateneo has already suspended all synchronous and asynchronous activities until Nov. 21, the petitioners noted that other students “who are victims of calamities and of COVID-19 [cannot] be expected to catch up with their studies within three to five working days.”
“From the beginning, no student should have been left behind,” the students said. “We acknowledge the university’s efforts in attempting to close the disparity between those who can afford to go on with schooling and those who have trouble doing so, but we see this is not enough in these times.”
With several Ateneans affected by the past calamities, the students said they “cannot sit idly by and do our modules, ignoring the fact that the Philippine nation is [a] shambles.”
The Loyola Schools’ faculty association has not yet convened to decide whether they would honor the strike.
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